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Chipping Away

Returning student studies sculpture, inspires classmates

Kristin Hughes-Craig, ’22, started at Bridgewater State before many of her current classmates were even born. Yet, Kristin is determined not to let a 30-year absence from the classroom stand between her and a degree.

As a college student in the 1980s, she experienced two major epilepsy-related seizures that necessitated weeks in the hospital. One left her in a coma. Her health challenges and dedication to raising five children meant education took a back seat for decades.

Until now. 

“I really love being back in college, I really do,” said Kristin, 53, who is pursuing the fine arts degree she started working toward in the 1980s. “I never thought I’d want to, but I’m glad for this opportunity.”

In between stints as an undergraduate, Kristin worked in human resources and at Woods Hole Film Festival. She also started a photography business. She hadn’t seriously considered returning to Bridgewater until son Robert Meninno found her old student ID and prodded his mother to re-enroll.

Kristin, who lives in Plymouth, is back on campus and focusing on sculpture as she aims to use her new skills in her work for the film festival. She’s also minoring in sustainability.

“She’s a great student to have,” said Professor Preston Saunders, who taught her ceramics. “Older students come back knowing they really want to go back. … You can see the dedication from that type of student.”

She inspires younger students who witness her perseverance and commitment to school, he said.

Kristin praises professors such as Saunders for helping her achieve her educational goal.

“He was very supportive of my coming back and very inclusive,” she said. “He didn’t single me out. He treated me the same way he treated my fellow students.”

She also appreciates the Academic Achievement Center, which helps with classes and scheduling and provides a host of other services.

“I feel like it’s an untapped resource for students,” she said.

She found even more support from her fellow classmates (yes, some affectionately call her “Mom”). They set her up on the social networking platform Snapchat so she could keep updated on classes when one of her children needed heart surgery.

“They were sending me homework assignments. I had this great connection,” she said. “They’re all really lovely. They’re super sweet.”

In many ways, Kristin is just like them, at least that’s what her family tells her. She’s fascinated by what she’s learning and thrilled to be a Bear – again.

“I’m intensely proud,” she said.

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